I had a lot weightier things I’d planned to write about this week, but instead, I’m going to write about a pink hat. This venturing off piste from something a bit more serious to a more lightweight and fun entry kind of sums up the story too. Before I set out the other day, there was, needless to say, no thought about a pink hat entering my life in any description, but enter it did, despite the fact that I set out looking for more practical things like a kitchen colander and shoes.
Somehow I ended up (as I often do) looking at hats, which hold a strange fascination for me, perhaps because I metaphorically wear so many different ones in my life. At least this time, I was drawn into looking at useful, warm hats, unlike the wildly impractical Downton Abbey style cloche hat I recently bought in London on a whim and then had a bedevil of a time packing and carting back to Canada without wrecking it (cue – schlepping it with me on board the plane). So at least I thought, as I plunged into the alluring array of cozy looking hats, this would be warm and practical, especially a non-nonsense black hat. So how did I end up with a bright pink one? Suddenly in that moment, I didn’t want to be practical and sensible. I wanted a bit of colour and life and joy exuding out of the top of my head. And so, the bright pink hat is what ended up in my basket.
Needless to say, I didn’t come home with shoes or a colander (though I did look for them, truly) but instead, unintentionally making an outward statement of what I internally would like to manifest – exuberance, happiness and light – and perhaps the pink hat will also succeed in making others smile too. I think it’s important to be the change we want to be, walk the talk, or in this case, wear the hat that speaks your truth to the world. And that truth can also entail veering wildly off a sensible course and just living and breathing and celebrating life – spontaneity being the gloved hand of creativity. Ah gloves, but that’s another story…😊
I think we all face difficult decisions trying to live our best lives while fulfilling what I call ‘karmic responsibilities’ to other people and commitments that we’ve made. Sometimes it can feel like a constant pitched battle of having to choose between situations that impossibly conflict with one another, and that whatever choice we make, we will either feel guilty for neglecting our responsibilities or disappointment at missing out.
I think the truly fortunate people are ones whose passions align with their responsibilities, such as those who care for animals or children, for example. But for many of us, responsibilities like those to family or community members can often result in us feeling robbed of spontaneity, freedom and joy.
There is certainly no perfect fix for this, and it can be a constant struggle to get the balance right, so that we are not always feeling anxious or unhappy. I think at times when we feel that we have chosen to sacrifice our time, our energy over doing something we truly want to do, the most healing action we can take is to try and step back and to view it as an opportunity to revisit our shared humanity. This can be hard when we’re immersed in the midst of a challenging situation, but it’s worth considering that we are all in a continual dance of giving and taking, and the act of giving can be in response to a time when you have taken in the past, or more pertinently, you are making the space for reciprocity to occur in future when you need to ask for help and will receive it from others.
Though it can feel upsetting or draining or even a wrong choice at the time, I think when we meet our karmic responsibilities and give, we are embodying humanity’s greatest treasure – the gift of compassion. And while it is equally important to have compassion for ourselves and our own needs, and not to neglect them and to honour them when we can, when we can give with compassion, we are actively engaged in a process of liberating our souls. And if we can develop the ability to give with compassion in a way that also brings us joy, this is the time when we are truly free.
I wish I could say I’m writing this from Venice, but for me, Chipping Sodbury has equivalent charms. As I was looking at a little bridge over the River Frome on my early morning walk, it occurred to me what a wonderful name for a bridge this was. What is it about bridges that makes us want to sigh when we see them? Is it the hypnotic flow of the water rushing past underneath? Or is it the significance of the melding together of two places and the transition that takes place between them?
I’ve always been very drawn to bridges, especially old stone bridges, which must have seen an enormous amount of traffic of all kinds over the centuries. I’m sure it’s because I’m someone who lives in two different places of the world and is always trying to straddle the substantial distance between them. I think also that most of us have some kind of divisions in our lives that split our affiliations and loyalties. It’s human nature – to be a part of a family and move away from it or be divided between a job and a relationship – so many ways we section ourselves, especially as the world has opened up and is full of infinite possibilities.
In this way we all need effective bridges in our lives – something that helps us navigate between two areas over what is often a turbulent, unsettling divide between them. I think if we can all find what can work for us as a bridge and how we can use it to safely navigate across our different realms, we would find these transitions less harrowing and fraught. Whether this bridge is a specific location, activity, person or even state of meditation, we all need a safe divider to help us translate, transform and to be in peace in the different spaces of our lives.